From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
ALLENTOWN, PA -- While Obama used his speech this morning to distance himself from Wes Clark's comments criticizing McCain's military record, the McCain campaign spent much of the morning trying to tie Clark and Obama closer together.
After a conference call in which several of his supporters implied that Clark's comments were a part of the Obama campaign's strategy, McCain answered questions about the comments at a press conference, implying that Obama and his surrogates were participating in dirty politics.
VIDEO: Robert Gibbs, Obama communications director, addresses the recent comments made by General Wesley Clark, adding that no one should question the patriotism of either candidate, but rather the judgement each possesses.
"I'm proud of my record of service and I have plenty of friends and leaders who will attest to that," McCain said when asked about Clark's criticism. "But the important thing is if that's the kind of campaign that Sen. Obama and his surrogates and his supporters want to engage, I understand that. But it doesn't reduce the price of a gallon gas by one penny. It doesn't achieve our energy independence any -- make it come any closer. It doesn't help an American stay in their home who are in risk of losing it today, and it certainly doesn't do anything to address the challenges that Americans have in keeping their jobs, their homes and supporting their families."
McCain did not push for Obama to condemn the remarks, despite being asked about them several times. Instead, he said: "Gen. Clark is not an isolated incident, but I have no way of knowing how much involvement Sen. Obama has in that issue." And he said that he would "let the American people decide" if Obama was going back on his promise to practice a new kind of politics by letting Clark's comments stand.
In his speech today, Obama emphasized McCain's military service and patriotism. "We must always express our profound gratitude for the service of our men and women in uniform. Period. Full stop," he said. "Indeed, one of the good things to emerge from the current conflict in Iraq has been the widespread recognition that whether you support this war or oppose it, the sacrifice of our troops is always worthy of honor."